Social Security Has Insufficient Staff to Manage Backlog

By Jon Ressler, Attorney, Roose & Ressler

I wrote last December about the Social Security disability backlog, highlighting the fact that the average wait for a hearing had grown to over 600 days and that a primary driver of the increasing backlog was insufficient funding. Another recent article at… describes the impact of insufficient funding on other Social Security services.

Social Security has lost over 1,000 field office staff in a little over a year (and 3,500 since 2010). The average wait time to reach a Social Security representative on its toll-free line has increased from three minutes in 2010 to 20 minutes currently.  Filing routine applications for retirement benefits are sometimes delayed for weeks. Be sure to take a good book if you want to talk to a Social Security representative in person. Waits can be hours, depending on your location and timing of your visit.

I said in December that “it does not appear that there are increases in Social Security’s budgetary funding on the horizon.” While there has been much discussion about how to address projected shortfalls in funding for the benefits paid through the program, there is little talk of the funding needed to administer the programs.  The Trump Administration’s 2019 proposed budget would hold Social Security’s budgetary funding at a flat level. It is estimated that Social Security staff would be reduced by another 1,000 workers, if the budget were to pass as proposed. Further degrading services would be a nearly inevitable result. Fortunately, the recently passed Omnibus legislation included a modest increase in administrative funding that should maintain or even somewhat improve the agency’s ability to provide timely services.

The implication of the budget proposal is that Social Security is inefficient and wasteful in its administration of its programs. And no one favors spending tax revenues to support inefficiency and waste. But the funding for the administration of the Social Security program is well past such arguments, when it is evident that insufficient funding is already compromising its ability to effectively carry out its essential day-to-day operations.

Social Security is a federal agency. Its operational funding is controlled by our elected representatives in the federal government. Contacting your federal representatives to express concern about Social Security’s eroding ability to provide timely services can help educate them and create political pressure to act.
About Roose & Ressler

Founded in 1982 and serving claimants throughout Northern Ohio from their offices in Lorain, Toledo, Wooster and Mansfield, Roose & Ressler is a social security disability law firm. The attorneys work with Northern Ohioans who need assistance with a social security disability claim or those who have been denied their claim. More information can be accessed at Jon Ressler can be contacted at or connect on LinkedIn.

April 20, 2018 Thought Leadership Articles
About Roose and Ressler